CHARLOTTE – The NFL's reigning tackles leader recorded just three stops Sunday.
A pair of rookie teammates recorded four tackles for loss.
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"Hey, we won," Panthers linebacker
Kuechly was quiet in large part because defensive tackles
Short dropped Rams running back Zac Stacy for a loss twice in three plays on St. Louis' second possession of the game. Lotulelei twice threw Stacy for losses later in the game.
"I was very impressed with our guys up there today," head coach Ron Rivera said. "Those two young guys are really coming along, and because of that you see that Luke Kuechly isn't making as many plays.
"It's to Luke's detriment but to our benefit. I believe Luke would take that any day of the week."
Thanks to the push at the point of attack, the Panthers' run defense outdid even itself. The Rams arrived at Bank of America Stadium on a two-game winning streak powered by the running game, but a Carolina defense that ranked fourth against the run at 88.8 yards per game allowed just 63.
"We were ready for them," Short said. "We watched film all week, and Chuck (defensive end
"That helped the guys in the back."
Guys like Kuechly, who entered the game averaging 11 tackles after leading the league in tackles as a rookie in 2012.
"Luke said something about it on the sideline, but it was just all fun and games," Short said. "He was just saying, ‘I don't have many tackles. You guys are really stopping them.' He told us to just keep it up. He just kept encouraging us, and that gave us a boost. That gave us confidence."
Short and Lotulelei were without the veteran leadership of
Their efforts left Kuechly seemingly inactive at times.
"They were hogging them all. Kawann and Star were killing it," Kuechly said. "They were in the backfield just about every play, so it didn't seem like there was a whole lot going on for us in the back end. That's a good thing."